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Take Analytics to the Next Level

SAP’s Analytics Strategy Promotes Agnostic Enterprise BI and Agile, Advanced Visualizations

by Christian Rodatus | SAPinsider, Volume 15, Issue 2

April 1, 2014

Learn about the three pillars of SAP’s analytics strategy: enterprise business intelligence (BI), agile visualization, and advanced analytics. Enterprise BI is the core of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 and the driver of what SAP is doing in the analytics space. Agile visualization brings volumes of data to life in a digestible format, and advanced analytics are now possible thanks to the game-changing innovations around data processing and speed.

 

In today’s business climate, data flows into an organization at a phenomenal pace from a variety of structured and unstructured data sources. This of course presents incredible business opportunities — everything from increased sales to reduced supply chain costs. Yet accompanying this influx of data is a shrinking window of time with which to make sense of it.

As a result, you need to change the way you view analytics and how you determine what constitutes enterprise business intelligence (BI). Enterprise BI is not just about reporting on historic data. It is a real-time analytics platform that drives collective insight across an enterprise in which people, data, and devices are all connected.

SAP is proud to be the market leader in BI — Gartner estimates SAP owns a 22% share of the BI and performance markets1 — and we view this as a responsibility to continue to deliver innovative solutions in the analytics space. This is the backdrop for the 2013 release of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1, the new standard bearer for enterprise BI that achieves the reporting “grand slam,” if you will: It can source data from virtually anywhere and make it available to anyone in the organization, at any time, on any device, and in any format.

The vision and strategy for analytics at SAP is defined by three solution categories: enterprise BI, agile visualization, and advanced analytics.

The Core of the Strategy

Enterprise BI is the core of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1, and the driver behind everything SAP is doing in the analytics space. By supporting roughly 140 data sources, SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 enables an organization to source data from anywhere into the platform and report against it. As a big data-ready platform, sources include Hadoop HiveQL, Amazon Elastic MapReduce (Amazon EMR), and Teradata 14.10.

This comprehensive platform, which integrates completely with SAP HANA, empowers customers to build new applications that can deliver real-time insights to new groups of users. Where traditional data was once the domain of a business analyst, the ability to mine traditional and untraditional data sources in real time can make an analyst out of everyone in an organization, from the CEO setting high-level strategy to a store clerk making a real-time business decision to create a promotion.

Seeing Is Believing

Agile visualization, the second pillar of SAP’s analytics strategy, is all about making data available to more users — and making it more easily consumable. When IT held the keys to unlocking data for small, exclusive groups of analysts or managers, reports didn’t necessarily have to be easy to understand, at least beyond those select users.

Today, the necessity of reducing the time from insight to action has turned this model on its head. The need for real-time data is no longer a luxury for an organization that wishes to gain a competitive edge. This is why the in-memory SAP HANA engine is a natural complement to the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 suite — but the quick access to data tells only half the story.

SAP Lumira, as the cornerstone of agile visualization, moves in the direction of self-service BI, giving users across the organization a seemingly unlimited number of ways to break down and look at data relevant to their specific needs. And while the self-service model doesn’t exclude IT from the equation, it does fundamentally change the way tools that are integrated into the suite are deployed, so IT is freed up to undertake more value-add projects.

Picture a traditional Microsoft Excel spreadsheet that analyzes punctuality across the airline industry. Traditionally, in the several minutes it took to discern pertinent information in a standard spreadsheet view, newer data could have made the information outdated or even irrelevant. With HTML5-based SAP Lumira, a user can merge and manipulate real-time data into unique visualizations that can be intuitively understood in seconds — and then shared across the organization.

Tomorrow’s Insights, Today

Currently the domain of niche industries and independent data scientists, predictive analytics will proliferate throughout business. As increasingly pervasive big data environments take hold, companies will not only sense the present with available data stores, but see the future and shape it to their advantage.

You may have seen or heard SAP mention that SAP HANA enables the “art of the possible,” with its transformative in-memory engine enabling real-time insights. Advanced analytics is the third pillar of our analytics strategy, in accordance with SAP’s belief that the natural evolution of combining real-time transactional and analytical data processing with self-service visualizations is the enablement of predictive analytics throughout the organization.

Currently the domain of niche industries and independent data scientists, predictive analytics will proliferate throughout business. As increasingly pervasive big data environments take hold, companies will not only sense the present with available data stores, but see the future and shape it to their advantage. One key element of this strategy pillar is SAP’s recent acquisition of KXEN, a company that provides state-of-the-art predictive modeling tools that, much like SAP Lumira, do not require advanced data analysis skills to use effectively. KXEN software is also highly embeddable, enabling predictive algorithms to be built and triggered directly within core SAP business applications.

Collective Insight

SAP’s three-pillared analytics strategy is not on the horizon — it is here now. 3M, which has co-innovated with SAP in the BI space for some time and identifies enterprise BI as a core pillar of its business strategy, rolled out SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 to more than 25,000 users. AAA is using KXEN predictive modeling tools to optimize marketing campaigns for close to 70% of its 53 million members, helping the company put the right products and services in front of its members at the optimal time.

SAP’s analytics strategy represents the culmination of the convergence of mobile, cloud, big data, and social media into a single, unified BI platform that unleashes the power of collective insight for the entire enterprise. While Gartner estimates that the analytics user base is just 10% of the overall business community today, that number is expected to reach 70% by 2020.2

This presents incredible opportunities for SAP partners that wish to support the core pillars of SAP’s analytics strategy. To this end, we have opened up a visual software development kit, with which partners can build visual libraries for specific applications in the SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 suite. One partner, for example, is developing visual libraries to communicate complex financial metrics in creative new ways. With SAP Predictive Analysis and SAP Lumira, partners can develop and deploy their own predictive algorithms and visualizations respectively, tailored to address specific business questions.

Learn More

With the astounding pace of change in the analytics business, we understand that current SAP BusinessObjects customers — and those interested in migrating to SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 — will likely have questions about what this means for their organizations. You can visit www.sapbusinessobjectsbi.com to learn more about the offering and for migration advice. Anyone using Microsoft Excel data can go to www.saplumira.com and download the personal edition of SAP Lumira at no cost. We welcome all customers and partners to join us in thinking about analytics in a new way. 

1 Gartner, “Gartner Says Worldwide Business Intelligence, CPM and Analytic Applications/Performance Management Software Market Grew Seven Percent in 2012” (June 6, 2013; www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2507915). [back]

2 Enterprise Apps Today, “Gartner Taps Predictive Analytics as Next Big Business Intelligence Trend” (April 17, 2012; www.enterpriseappstoday.com/business-intelligence/gartner-taps-predictive-analytics-as-next-big-business-intelligence-trend.html). [back]

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Christian Rodatus
Christian Rodatus

Christian Rodatus
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Analytics
SAP



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